Flyers one point from conference title after Dundee demolition

Fife Flyers celebrate one of seven goals against Dundee Stars. Pic: Steve Gunn
Fife Flyers celebrate one of seven goals against Dundee Stars. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers 7 Dundee Stars 0

Fife Flyers can win the Gardiner Conference title tonight after completing a stunning Saturday night demolition job on Dundee Stars.

The Kirkcaldy side produced a near flawless performance with seven goals, a clean sheet, and zero PIMs ensuring not a single black mark on the game sheet.

It followed Friday's crucial 6-3 victory in Braehead Arena, and now leaves Fife needing just one more point to clinch their first EIHL title since joining the set-up in 2011.

The relentless work-rate and energy of the team was matched by the quality of play as Flyers made it look easy at times against a side that has previously caused them problems.

A Chase Schaber hat-trick was the highlight but there were big performances across the bench, with Danick Gauthier picking up the man of the match award to go with his brace of goals.

Fife now travel to Dundee Ice Arena tonight (5.00 p.m face-off) knowing an overtime defeat would be enough to secure the silverware, and few would bet against them on this evidence.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume said: "That's the hockey team that we know and that's where our success so far this season has come from.

"We have to go into Dundee thinking it's two crucial league points, and if they make it happen, it will be wonderful to cap it off."

It was evident from the start the Flyers were up for the challenge and it took them just 4.36 to get off the mark with a superb team goal as Jim Jorgensen picked out new signing Dan Correale behind the net, whose clever first-time pass to Schaber out in front was matched by the first-time finish.

Players who join at this late stage of the season can often take a few weeks to settle in but Correale looks to have made a seamless transition into the Fife set-up after an impressive performance on his home debut.

More precise passing in the Dundee zone led to Flyers doubling their lead in the 10th minute as Peter LeBlanc threaded the puck through a crowd to Carlo Finucci, who still had plenty to do but showed his confidence in front of net with a deadly finish.

Schaber took a stick to the face towards the end of the first period which resulted in a 2+2 penalty for Gabriel Lévesque, most of which carried over into the start of period two.

The four-minute powerplay looked to be going nowhere until 13 seconds left, when Flyers finally shot the puck, with Ian Young's blocked effort landing kindly for Gauthier to stab over the line.

A storming shift from Gauthier led to Flyers winning a penalty shot in the 27th minute. The forward first rattled the underside of the crossbar with a ferocious effort from the blue line before chasing the puck into the corner, winning it back to home in on goal, only to be hooked back before he could get a shot away.

Referee Neil Wilson signalled a penalty shot and Gauthier got the reward he deserved as he sent his effort through the five-hole of Travis Fullerton for 4-0.

Flyers performance was not without its mistakes, but each time the puck was lost it was quickly won back - Flyers were just too quick in thought and movement for Dundee to take any advantage.

The last time Fife had a commanding lead at home against Dundee they let it slip before losing in overtime. There was no such complacency this time around as the home side ramped up the pressure in period three.

Schaber made it five on 44.54 with a speculative shot from distance that caught an unsighted Fullerton by surprise as it nestled in the back of his net, while at the other end, an open net miss by Anthony Mastrodicasa summed up Dundee's dismal night.

Flyers were now toying with the Dundee defence, removing Andy Iles for a lengthy 6 on 4 attack on a delayed penalty call, before making the resulting 5 on 3 powerplay count, as Liam Heelis scored for the third match running with a neat finish on the turn on 53.11.

This was the cue for Dundee to replace netminder Fullerton with back-up Craig Holland, and Fife did likewise, with Jordan Marr getting the final six minutes.

The tempo dropped for the closing stages as Flyers looked to conserve some energy for their third game in a row, but that did not stop them from making it 7-0, with no pressure on Schaber as he took a few attempts at forcing the puck over the line from close range.

This was exactly the type of performance that has put Fife on the brink of their first EIHL silverware.

When it comes, and it is now just a matter of when, it will be richly deserved.